Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Happy Memorial Day!

Service at the "Sheep Lady's" house
Mi familia!!! Hey how’s everyone doing this week?? As you are all aware today is Memorial Day aka a missionary’s worst nightmare for emailing... ha-ha. There isn’t a whole lot of time for 35 missionaries to all email in one church so I will try my best to write as much as I can :) But to start, how are things?? What are everyone’s holiday plans? Mine are to work! Whoo whoo! But we had a pretty decent week this past week it wasn’t the most successful, but we tried and still had a great time so that’s all that counts.

This past week was full of ups and downs, but we did find some more investigators to teach by contacting and doing the "nuts and bolts" of the mission or in other words, the dirty work.  On Tuesday, we had to skip out on IFC food bank since we had a lesson with a new investigator at 10 am which I was pretty sad about because I love going to that place. But the lesson was with a guy named S**. He is a pretty cool guy that just had pretty serious foot surgery and has a lot of free time to just chill and talk on his porch.  We had a pretty good lesson with him. I just got “Spanished” out of my mind by his accent.

This new member has incredible faith!
The mission is going great though and I love it more and more each week and the Spanish language is improving every day. Of course there are always hard times in a mission, but it wouldn’t be worth it honestly if there weren’t any trials or hard times. I actually can look back at some of the hardest times of my mission, especially when I was in Compton, and I can say that I have grown so much since that point of time! It’s amazing how the Lord places us in areas with certain people at the right times because he always knows how it will affect our future. Elder B** and I worked a lot with the Bishop this week in visiting all the less actives in our area and in trying to see if we could offer simple service or something to help them out in their lives. We had some really awesome and great lessons and visits where we shared some talks from the Liahona.  We compared them to their lives to help them figure out how to get back onto the right path by praying and coming to church. In my opinion, people go less active by doing two things 1) they stop praying individually and 2) they focus more on what human beings think rather than what God thinks. I know this to be true because I have seen how prayer affects people out on my mission and also from firsthand experience when I was "inactive" for a long time before my mission. I know my hard trials and biggest problems in life were because I stopped asking God for help and relied on my own wisdom and decisions. I just want everyone who is reading this email to know that prayer is the key to activity and in receive guidance from God! Don’t ever quit even if times seem bleak :)

Mis hermanos
This week was a good week for a lot of different reasons so many that I can’t tell them all due to lack of time. With the investigators we have right now we seem to be making some good, but very slow progress. A** is progressing slowly, but seems to be our most faithful for sure! We had a good lesson on the restoration last week and he says he will come to church once he doesn’t have to "work".  Who knows when that will be.  Ha-ha. C** has a date to be baptized on the 6th of June, but we are in a battle with another church. C**’s best friends attend a Born Again Christian church and have been taking her to church with them every week now... ugh so hard! We invited her and other people have asked her to come and she always agrees and gets excited, but just like this Sunday, she had a "sleep over" at her friend’s house then they went to church in the morning so she wasn’t able to come. I’m not really sure what to do to help her want to stop going with her friends other than forcing her... which clearly is not the right answer. Ha-ha  All I can do is just ask for all your prayers to help us know how to handle this situation better. Thanks :)

Major decked for the holiday!!
We do have a funny story with a new investigator we have named, A**. This guy is a total trip! He is a 45 year old stoner guy who used to be a Jehovah’s Witness. He loves the Mormons and has even said he has thought about joining our religion. But yesterday, while we were walking down the street, we heard somebody whistle at us and start yelling to get our attention. I had no clue as to where it came from and I looked everywhere until I looked across the street at a second story apartment complex to a man who was butt nude waving us down to come over to his house and it was A**! Ha-ha  When we came to talk to him and he put on some clothes, he was all,"Ahh.. Elders, nothing like a good air dry after a hot shower!” ha-ha super hilarious! I was dying. We then had a surprisingly good lesson with him and have even started to help him want to stop smoking marijuana and cigarettes and to try coming to church.

This week flew by pretty fast and I can’t believe another one has already begun! I have decided to talk to the mission nurse in getting Elder B** and myself a car for our area. My back has gotten destroyed out here on my mission and with all the walking we do with my bag.  It is making me feel like I’m 97 years old whenever we get home. That’s probably the only bad part about my week is the back problems from when I hurt it before the mission. But other than that, things are going good and we have high hopes for a better week this week and better transfer to come! I love you all and miss you all very much. You will forever stay in my prayers and I hope everything goes well this week. Thanks again for the support!! Have a great week!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Woffinden

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sweet Baptism Experience

Saludos desde debajo del puente Slausen
Mi fiel y familia increíble!!! How’s it going this past week?? Wow, I can’t believe how fast the weeks fly by.. I know I say this every week, but for real... it’s kinda scary to think about.

More graffiti under the Slausen Bridge
I had a CRAZY week!! So transfers came and I am getting transferred to HB!!! Nah, jk I’m staying with Elder B for at least one more transfer here in Pico Rivera so we were both excited to stay together for at least one more. Also Elder H** is now our new zone leader here in Whittier so I get to have part two serving with him again! Its gonna be dope! But anyways now with our week.

Well to begin, every Monday night is always filled with an adventure! For real though something insane happens to Elder B** and I every single p-day night.   Elder B** and I were exploring underneath the Slausen Bridge to take some photos of some of the graffiti art that we could see.  It was awesome and we got some great photos.  Then these "hobos" start to follow us so we bailed outta there hoping to not get robbed. haha. As we headed towards this giant apartment complex we got to the gate which is always locked so we needed someone to come and let us in (this is were my email gets nuts) haha.
Elder B and I playing at the park!
Finally this girl sees us and starts running to the door to let us in and we're all yes!! finally we can go in. Once she gets to the door it is very obvious that she is not all there in the head, but she let’s us in and welcomes us with a classic, "HEYYYY cuties!!" haha and we were all... ugh "Hi!" Then she responds with, "You both wanna come up to my apartment!?"  We’re all like, "No,  sorry we have to go somewhere."  She then says, "Oh okay no worries at least walk with me so I can show which house I live in." Ugh... fine, it was on the way to the house we were going to anyways so we followed her. As we got outside she pointed up the stairs and said, "It’s that one baby!" :/  All I am thinking is get me outta here! So I then said, "Okay, well what’s your name?" And she responds with this crazy name I have never heard so I ask her again and then all of a sudden she leans in towards where I am standing and just kisses me right on the check super close to the lips!!! haha ahh! I pushed her away and was, "Well, we’re outta here, have a great night!" and then we left.  It was the weirdest thing I have ever had happen to me on my mission!

Another great Elder heads home!
But besides that great story, the work is going good. We had way more members present this week and our investigators are doing great! We are still having troubles trying to set up times to meet them on a regular basis, but when we do teach them, the lessons are very good. I am excited to be here for another transfer because I need to really up my game here in Pico Rivera. I owe a lot to the Savior and God and I need to be more focused. There are lots of things taking away my attention sometimes so I just need to focus. But I am ready to find those souls who are ready to be baptized.

He ain't heavy... he's my brother!!
Speaking of baptisms... Yesterday, I had one of the coolest experiences of my life. I was asked by the Elders of La Esperanza Barrio to help with the baptism of a woman named M**.  She has no legs, and is in a wheel chair and progressed towards baptism! You’re all probably think how in the heck did they make that work?? Well, I was thinking the same thing.  It took five of us to place her in a chair and to carry her into the baptismal font, and then to gently pick her up and place her into the water. I was like 80 percent in the water holding her up from her back while the others were there for support and Elder B** baptized her. The reason I am telling this story is because I have never seen someone so determined to follow the Savior in my life! This lady has no legs and is terrified of water, but despite her fears she still trusted in us, as the Lord’s servants, to help her to the waters of baptism. Of course she was terrified and shaking, but it just helped me realize how blessed we all truly are and how the invitation for baptism is for EVERYONE!!  I am so grateful for yesterday’s baptism and for M**’s desire to follow Jesus Christ. SO AMAZING!

J's dog, Biscuit!
So we were teaching J** at McDonalds since her kid is crazy and needs to run around in the play house,etc. It was a great lesson overall, but after she asked if we could walk over with her to this "dog spa and neuter" clinic. She wanted to get prices for her dog, Biscuit, jaja! So we agreed and walked over to this clinic with her. But as we walked into this ghetto place we passed by this super nice Porsche, and I knew I had seen that Porsche before. Sure enough as we walked inside it was Miranda Cosgrove (the main girl from iCarly) haha.  This is now the third time I have seen her on my mission.  We sat there awkwardly right next to her and had small talk about her dog etc, jaja  It was hilarious and so random. We wanted to take a picture, but we backed out of it thinking that it would be creepy. Oh well.

But the rest of the week went by pretty smoothly. We have been doing great work with the service and yes mom, we are going by sheep lady’s house this Wednesday. I will get some more lovely pics for you with her. I hope you all have a great week! Whoever is reading my email, just know I love you all and queiro decir que nunca te des por vencido!!

Con amor,
Elder Woffinden

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

Ward Mother's Day Party - Happy Mother's Day Mom!
Hey long time no see!! How’s it going since yesterday? Ha-ha Man it was so good to hear from you and see you all yesterday! I still cannot believe how much all my little nieces and nephews have grown! Especially Meg, wow looks nothing like I remember her. But you all seem to be doing great and I am so blessed that la familia Castillo was able to allow me to skype at their home for el dia de las madres! This week’s email might be pretty lame since I honestly talked a lot yesterday during our skype about what I planned to email today. But, oh well.. ni modo!

Service in the Rain!
Thanks Scotty D for all the training!
Okay, Elder B** and I have had a harder week than usual. We really had some tough days that looked like nothing was going to come out of our efforts.  One thing I have been trying to apply in my life is to realize that God ALWAYS helps us to have small successes in our lives whether it’s personal or for another person. So we had a great find this week of a woman named Y** exactly a week ago. We had an amazing lesson where we only focused our efforts on helping her realize she has a loving Father in Heaven and how he wants her to be happy and return back to him. She is Catholic, but hasn't been to church since she was 5 and said she felt impressed to get back to church especially since we stopped by.  The lesson was perfect! There was nothing else that could have gone better in my opinion. However, a concept I have been really struggling with on my mission is on the agency of others and their decisions. The reason I bring this up is because since that lesson a week ago, we have lost all contact. We have been forward to her voice mail EVERY time we call, get ignored at the door and many more things. The reason I bring this experience up is for any new missionaries or those preparing to serve missions to help them to know that missions are very worth it, but they are difficult! But no matter how difficult they may be, try to not blame yourself for other's choices and agency on whether they accept the gospel or not.  As long as you try your best and rely on Christ, you are good! So yeah that's the advice I will give for this week.

Glad this one is behind the fence!
But the work is progressing in general! We had our old investigator G** accept the gospel!! He sent me a text on Saturday which said in his own words, "I prayed to God asking if I should join the church and I got a feeling in my heart that it’s the best choice I will make. I also feel I can find the love I have been waiting for years, I love reading the B of M."  Wow talk about an amazing text message to receive! Even though we no longer teaching him, I am so happy he decided to pursue this gospel and I can’t wait for the day he gets baptized! The work always moves along!   As of now, we are still just trying to stay above water as we try to find more solid people to teach in this area.

Dogs, Dogs and more Dogs!  Not knocking this door!
Mother’s Day weekend was pretty hard to work since nobody wanted to talk and they were all out visiting family etc. so the weekend was pretty slow.  Service is still a big part of our weeks here! You can’t go wrong with the good "old sheep lady" and with all the hard manual labor she has for us! (that was a sympathy sentence)  All the years growing up with yard work and especially working for Scotty D have made me into the work horse I am today ;) ha-ha jk.

On Saturday we had a Mother’s Day party at the church.  It wasn't that great of a turn out which we had all hoped for, but it was still a fun night. The food was amazing as usual and even though I told you guys how the latina comida is killing me (ha-ha) I still love it!  They played games with music etc. and all us missionaries observed and watched since we’re the "clean up and set up duty. :) Yeah. Super Fun!  The ward is doing great and we are really trying to focus our time with visiting all less actives and investigators with el obispo and other members of the ward. So please pray that the area of Pico Rivera grows!!

But that’s it for me this week, I hope everyone who is able to read my words knows that I love and miss them and am so excited for the day to see y’all again! But until then, keep working hard and be safe!! Con mucho carino y amor nos vemos!!

Elder Woffinden

Monday, May 4, 2015

Service With a Smile!

Great new member!
What’s up everyone!? How has this past week been for you all?? I hope it was an amazing one! I can’t believe Mother’s Day is this Sunday... it has come so fast I can’t even believe it! What are your Mother’s Day plans? I am still trying to find someone here who has a computer or iPad they can lend us to use for Mother’s Day.  We have been unsuccessful as of right now so I hope and pray that I can find a member this week that doesn’t have plans.  Happy birthday to Tyson!! Hope today is a bomb bday and hope the family is doing well :)

Well for me, I had a pretty good week. It really flew by pretty fast. We had another week full of service opportunities work at the "sheep ladies” farm, food bank etc.   We also found a couple of new investigators by knocking doors and contacting and they are investigators de oro!  Hopefully, cross your fingers and pray that they don't end up hiding from us or dropping us this week.  Ha-ha. Also I got into a car crash this week while on exchanges... pretty intense it was a rollover accident and everything! Nah, just playin with ya, it was just a fender bender and I wasn't driving, thank heavens! But I’ll explain more in a bit :)

Just like home...  Getting out those old stumps!
But I'm glad that you saw a pic of me at the baptism this week! Ha-ha that’s super funny!  It’s so good to be back up here in Whittier and to see J** and her family occasionally! The baptism was for George’s son, it was amazing! G** is one of the sickest members here and he just barely got the Aaronic Priesthood and has made amazing strides in changing his life around to be where he is at now.  I was able to see all the families from my first area and it was great!

Super Heros to the Rescue!
Service with a SMILE!
Okay as for Elder B** and myself this week we have been doing really good! We both get along really well and are pretty much on the same page now for the work and what we need to do to help this area progress. My main goal is to leave this area better than I found it so I will stay strong to make that goal and really focus my time and talents to the task. This week we did have more investigators drop us and also we had to hand off some to the Singles Ward Elders.  Our teaching pool got cut in half once again. D** called on Saturday and was really nice about it, but said that right now just isn’t the time or place for her to hear us out even though she loved what we taught and how she felt.  Maybe she will come back to the church later on... who knows. But we also passed off G** to the Singles Ward Elders which was a good decision since he barely speaks and understands Spanish so that would just be awkward at church, etc.  As for success, we found 2 news investigators E** and A** who are both fluent Spanish speakers from Mexico so that was a great blessing! We had great lessons with them both about the first point of lesson 2 which talks about our pre-earth life and how we have a purpose in life by a loving Father in Heaven. Both seemed pretty interested and were very open to having us come back and teach them more when they have more time this week. However, there is no way I am teaching them without members present in the lessons, I have seen over the course of my mission the difference it really makes when the members help us teach rather than us by ourselves and the success rate of people coming to church doubles. We have a whole new pool of investigators who have only been taught 1 or more lessons.  This week, I plan to really focus on setting some baptism dates and establishing a vision for both the investigators and how we can help them get closer to God and the Savior.

Serving at the Food Bank
Okay, I was on exchanges with Elder P** in his area while Elder L** was with my companion.  We were off to a really good exchange. We had a bomb dinner and then had a good lesson on the Holy Ghost to help a family in our ward.  As the night continued to roll on, we were going by potentials and investigators and we were having the most success.  We were heading to visit some more people and were driving down this little street where we saw a group of gang members standing in the middle of the street talking to somebody in this giant blacked out truck.  We decided to try to maneuver around them, but then saw that there was a parked truck on the other side therefore making our passage impossible. So I told Elder P** to stop.  He either didn't hear me or something, but he kept on going and yup we ended up hitting the back of the truck in front of everybody. Ha-ha. It was a terrible night after that having to fill out paperwork while everybody else around us was filming us on their phones, making crude jokes about us and pretending to be "injured" etc. It was ridiculous. Thankfully, the owner was a pretty nice Hispanic man so we were able to fill out the information and leave.   Like I said, the accident wasn't bad at all, but we had to spend all the next day at the office filling out more paperwork and forms and talking to the vehicle coordinator.  It was just a huge waste of time. But besides that little minor setback, the exchange was good and so was the rest of this week. We have seen great progress in certain people we teach even though they won’t come to church yet.  I am confident that if we remain consistent that eventually they will decide to come and change their lives.

Elders of Pico Rivera-Whittier.
That's about it for me this week! It was a great week full of ups and downs and lots and lots of walking. But I hope all is well for everyone who reads my blog! Stay true to the faith and trust in God and all things are possible.

Con amor,
Elder Woffinden